Don’t be fooled: the new PS5 logo may seem ‘uninspired’ but is PlayStation’s best tactic against Xbox Series X and Nintendo Switch.
With CES 2020 happening this week and the highly anticipated PS5 around the corner, it was destined that PlayStation would be revealing something at the conference. And just like many of us predicted, we saw the worldwide reveal of the PS5’s logo — a sleek and consistent take that doesn’t depart too wildly from the PS4.
If you missed Sony’s conference at CES 2020, here is the exact moment that Sony Interactive Entertainment’s CEO and President Jim Ryan unveiled the new PlayStation logo:
And it’s no wonder that home viewers walked away from this moment feeling underwhelmed: there are no gasps or standing ovations. As frequent gaming conference watchers, viewers expect exciting news to be met with cheers and applause, not total silence.
As a result, some have taken the logo as a product of PlayStation stagnation. Within a day, a lot of gaming press, fans of the brand, and industry professionals have responded somewhat glib to the new PS5 logo. With Spider-Man memes abound, the logo has been written off as something entirely uninspired. We even gave a hot take at DualShockers, sarcastically calling the reveal “truly shocking.” Within a day of the new logo’s reveal, it has become a running joke many labeling it a branding failure.
The funniest part of the PS5 logo being identical to the PS4 logo is you *know* there were HOURS of meetings and discussions and notes and follow up calls and approvals for this design https://t.co/V9KLZCctbh
— Mike Drucker (@MikeDrucker) January 7, 2020
However, talking heads, pundits, and blue checkmarks on Twitter are missing the forest for the trees. The PS5 logo is the warning shot of the next generation to come, and spells out clearly and concisely that PlayStation has their eyes on the prize: staying on top for the next generation of gaming consoles.
While many gamers out there are comparing the PS4 and PS5 logos, all they see is bland consistency. In a media age fueled by reactionary takes and polarizing opinions, many people following CES 2020 for PS5 news was hoping for something new to get excited about. But that, frankly, isn’t how the consumer world works.
Without question, the PS4 is firmly on top of this generation of consoles. With over 100 million consoles sold (and breaking a world record in the process), there’s simply no chance to think otherwise. The easiest and most sure-fire way for success is brand consistency and creating an easily discernable product for consumers.
Tapping into that last point, we have seen time and time again that brand confusion has created problems in selling consoles. The prime example is the Wii U — following the initial reveal, even gaming enthusiasts and industry members alike were unsure if the latest Nintendo console was a peripheral upgrade to the Nintendo Wii or a new console. Everyday consumers also had issues discerning the Wii from the Wii U, a consistent fact that dogged its sales. The Wii U is still among the worst-selling Nintendo consoles at 13.5 million units sold over 5 years.
While the results are a long way away, Microsoft and the Xbox Series X may potentially be falling into that same sandtrap. Following the console’s official name reveal at The Game Awards 2019, gamers were confused if the console was called ‘Xbox’ or the ‘Xbox Series X.’ Microsoft would eventually clarify that it was the former, as the branding team decided to go with the Apple naming approach. However, with this early confusion, it’s all too easy to imagine a parent confusing the Xbox Series X with the Xbox One X.
Sure, the PS5 logo may seem stale in comparison to the Nintendo Switch logo or the new Xbox naming mechanics. But it is clear. And it’s been proven time and time again that clarity is vital when it comes to selling consoles to a mainstream audience. There was consideration and calculation behind the decision to keep everything streamlined and consistent, and PlayStation is clearly going to benefit from it.
That’s not to say that either Nintendo or Xbox are making the wrong moves for their own companies — when you are behind in the game, you have to shake things up. Clearly, Nintendo succeeded in a branding overhaul; by moving away from the Blue Ocean strategy of the Nintendo Wii and embracing a more modern approach, the Switch has seen surging popularity. Similarly, Xbox has been aggressively approaching the next console generation with Xbox Game Pass and the acquisition of fan-favorite studios. It’s a stark (and beneficial) contrast to the earliest days of Xbox One and is a better way to court gamers that were lost to the PlayStation ecosystem.
But as I mentioned above, PlayStation has reigned supreme this generation — there’s no need to change horses in midstream. While other companies are trying to make a break from their past, Sony is busy at defining their future — focusing on improving the tech and a library of PS5 exclusive games, while keeping their marketing clear, consistent, and focused on the consumer market that launched them to success. With developers saying that there is no easier system to develop for than PS5, we are in for a competitive year.
When talking about the next console generation, it is still anyone’s game — neither PS5 or Xbox Series X has made their full reveal, and both Sony and Microsoft are well-positioned for success. But in the meantime, don’t mistake PlayStation’s branding consistency as boring or uninspired. It’s a smart move to keep ahold and grow their massively established audience.
The PS5 currently has no planned release date, though it will be out sometime in holiday 2020; keep an eye on DualShockers for all the latest information as it becomes available.